Tips for New Homeowners


Becoming a new homeowner is a reason for celebration, but it also comes with new responsibilities as well. Following the tips below can help you get off on the right foot with home ownership.


Don’t Ignore Maintenance

As a homeowner, repairs and fixes around the house are on you. There is no landlord to arrange for a plumber or even to mow the lawn. If you’re handy, you can save money by taking care of simple fixes yourself. However, attempting to “economize” by taking on major tasks, such as rewiring a faulty electrical system or fixing a leaky roof, will almost certainly be costlier than hiring a professional contractor or electrician right off the bat. Worse, you could be putting yourself and your family in harm’s way by neglecting needed repairs. Take the time to stay on top of the maintenance schedule for your home

Get Help with Your Tax Returns

Tax laws concerning home ownership, including what does and does not qualify for a tax break is especially confusing for new homeowners. The money you spend to hire a certified public accountant (CPA), or an attorney who specializes in laws pertaining to home ownership, to file your tax returns for the year after you purchase your home will be money well spent. You may well gain enough in tax breaks to cover the expense of hiring a professional.

Save Receipts from Home-Related Projects

Receipts from home improvements can be used to increase your home’s tax basis, which is the purchase price of your home plus the total costs of any improvements you have made in the home.  A higher basis translates into lower taxable income whenever you decide to sell your home.

Obtain the Right Insurance Coverage

As a homeowner, skimping on insurance can drain your finances if you suffer a major loss, and even potentially leave you legally vulnerable. At a minimum, you should purchase enough insurance to replace the full value of your home and its contents in the event of a total loss, either through a natural disaster, fire, or a criminal act. Other types of insurance may be needed as well, depending on your circumstances and the location of your home. An independent insurance broker can help you determine what coverage is needed.

Becoming a first-time homeowner is exciting for any individual or family. By dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s listed above, you’ll ensure that your new home continues to fulfill your family’s vision of the American dream.


Top 5 Home Design Trends

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Just like fashion trends, home design trends come and go. Incorporating one or more of the following five current home design trends can help your home sell faster, and for a higher price, no matter when you plan to sell your home.

Smart Home Functionality

Many home buyers are seeking smart home functionality to reduce high utility bills and their contribution to carbon gas emissions. Smart home functionality includes energy-efficient bulbs, outlets, thermostats, and appliances. Voice-activated assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home also contribute to smart home technology by turning lights and heat off in rooms that are not being used and scheduling the use of appliances for non-peak periods when utility costs are often lower.



Greenery is Pantone’s color of the year for 2017. Greenery translates into pops of green color throughout the home, including green appliances and accessories. Greenery also refers to bringing the outside inside in the form of plants and fountains typically found outdoors.

Matte Appliances

For years, stainless steel appliances have been in high demand. Stainless steel is still popular, but appliances with a matte or brushed finish are becoming more popular. Ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers with a matte finish give kitchens a fresh look.


Unique Bathroom Vanities

Back in the day, bathroom vanities were almost an afterthought, if they existed at all. Today, unique bathroom vanities are highly sought after, especially vanities with double sinks. Repurposed furniture, such as chests or small tables, is especially popular for bathroom vanities. Repurposing a piece of furniture as a bathroom vanity is a challenging but manageable weekend DIY project for handy homeowners.

No Dedicated Home Office

Back in the day, a home office meant a desk, computer and phone, perhaps with a fax machine attached. These days, people work from laptops, tablets or even smartphones. Desks and landlines are out; Wi-Fi and docking stations are in. This trend translates to a reduced emphasis on dedicated home office space in favor of a small cabinet or converted closet to house a small workspace plus storage for a printer.

Turning Your Home into a Smart Home

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During the 1960s, George Jetson, his wife Jane, daughter Judy and son Elroy lived in a futuristic space pod where everything was automated. Today, that cartoon scenario is closer to reality than ever. You may not be able to live exactly like the Jetsons, but it is possible to automate and regulate quite a bit, operating lighting, appliances and even housecleaning from your smartphone or with a simple verbal command. The cost is less than you might imagine, with the additional benefit of reducing your household’s carbon footprint.

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting results in lower electric bills and is also environmentally friendly. Smart lighting can be configured to monitor energy usage, to turn itself on and off on a set schedule or to turn lights off in rooms that are not being used, translating into significant utility bill savings. Smart lighting systems can also incorporate colored bulbs or connect to a dimmer for mood lighting.

Smart Heating and Cooling

Anyone who has experienced sticker shock from a sky-high electric bill due to heating in the winter or air conditioning during the summer will appreciate the benefits of smart heating and cooling. Smart meters allow users to monitor and regulate electric usage, scheduling high-demand tasks such as laundry for non-peak periods. Smart meters also regulate heating and cooling systems, scheduling systems to run for the minimum time needed to maintain reasonable indoor comfort. Smart heating and cooling systems can also regulate thermostats on a schedule so that less heating and cooling energy is used at night.

Smart Cleaning

Smart cleaning robots are definitely fun. They can be set to clean up sudden messes and to run on a schedule to keep all the floors in your home clean, allowing homeowners to spend time doing other things. Smart cleaning robots “sense” obstacles such as furniture and avoid them. They also plug themselves in when they need to be recharged.


Smart Switches

Automated electrical controls are not new. However, smart switches remove the function of turning electrical items on and off from the realm of novelty items like The Clapper. These sophisticated controls allow users to schedule and monitor usage of anything plugged into them from a laptop computer or a mobile app. The payoff comes in the form of energy savings as well as lower utility bills.


Voice Activated Assistance

Voice activated systems such as Amazon Echo or Google Home use technology similar to virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri. However, services like Amazon Echo or Google Home can do far more than smartphone-based assistants. These services can control a user’s lighting and thermostats, make phone calls or control an entire security system.


Why Go Custom?

Your home is more than just a roof over your head – it’s a sanctuary. A comfortable home is imperative to feeling secure and happy in your life. Pre-designed homes are necessary at certain life stages, but when we reach a specific level of financial stability, a custom designed home can inspire a sense of personal comfort that other houses and apartments can’t. When approaching the decision to go with a custom designed home, here are some things to consider.  

Comfort. A custom design allows you to make your home as comfy and cozy as you want. Instead of sticking to pre-established designs, and features that don’t necessarily reflect your personal style, a custom design allows you to implement the features that will make you feel the most at home.  

Flexibility. With custom design, your home is your oyster. You can implement the design styles, elements, and features that speak to you and your lifestyle’s needs. You won’t be constricted by the structures & features of a pre-designed home.  

Creativity. The most exciting and fun part of designing a custom home is the creative process. Nothing is more inspiring than sifting through magazines, books, and blogs to find the right aesthetic for your future home. Unlike a production home, you get the chance to work directly with your designer, and the builder of your choice, to prioritize specific features and design elements for your dream home. You and your designer will collaborate and strategize to create a design that makes you feel at home.  

Stay unique. The most important advantage of a custom home is that it’s one-of-a-kind. Your home is a reflection of your personality. A custom home showcases you & your personal aesthetic, and it enhances your lifestyle.  

Building your dream home is a lifelong dream for many people. Finding the right builder allows you to create a custom home that meets the needs of you and your family and will be a place to enjoy for years to come.

Tips for Building Your Dream Custom Home

Just like an investment or major decision, it can be nerve-wracking to take the plunge into designing a custom home. Before you sign on the dotted line with any contractor or designer, it’s important to evaluate every aspect of your future design and building process, to make sure it’s the right decision for you. Here is what you should consider before you start designing a home.  



Know the designer. Don’t just judge a designer by their website or social media pages. It’s important to get to know a designer beyond a preliminary level before you sign up with them. Ask about their experience, references, and credentials to get a sense of their previous work.  

Know what you want. One of the trickiest parts of home design is determining the best style and design themes for you. This aspect requires research and patience. Read magazines, look at books, go online, and sift through the blogs and virtual home tours. Put yourself in these images, and you’ll be able to capture a sensory experience. You need to develop an understanding of what design elements are critical to your lifestyle, and how you want your home to operate. Many clients find collage helpful — the pasting and splicing of different images that evoke their dream home vision can help them actually envision themselves in the design.  

Budget. How does this home design play into your budget, financial timeline, and goals? Make sure that this design is a priority investment for your present and future. You’ll need to sit down and consider payment options, and weigh the pros and cons of a bank payment or cash.  

Timeline. A thorough and successful home design and the building of the home take time. That’s why it’s important to question if a home design fits into your current life plans. Consider the time it will take to carry out the construction of your dream home design. You don’t want life to take a backseat when you embark upon a home design. Make sure you have a dedicated project manager who will act as a liaison between you and the contractors, so that the building process is on time and on budget.  

Stick to your priorities. It’s important to stay strong in your design convictions. Doing so requires that you effectively articulate and communicate your wants and needs for both your design of your home, and the building process. Staying quiet, and brushing your ideas to the side, won’t allow for success. Strong communication will help you get the most out of your design.

What to Think About When Designing a Custom Home

Designing a home is a constantly evolving process. It’s taking a small idea and nurturing it into life. No two home designs are alike, and the challenge of crafting a new home design is what I find most inspiring. That being said, there’s a lot to take into account when starting the home design process. As we work together to create your dream home, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:  

Have an open mind. Home design is not a black and white process. There are no boilerplates, and there’s nothing cookie cutter about my methods. Home design is a collaborative process. It’s important to be open to discussing new design ideas and solutions with your designer so that you can have the best possible experience.  

Future living. Before you commit to a home design, think about how you’re going to be living and existing in this house on a daily basis. What are the necessary and functional features you and/or your family require in order to be happy in your home? Make a list of your priorities, and work with your builder to help figure out how to make those goals a reality.

Aesthetics. Beyond functionality, the color pallet and themes of your house are integral to your design. Many designers and builders will work with you to blend different themes together to come up with the aesthetic that speaks the most to them. They often experiment with different elements and styles to figure out the one that best complements your home. A good designer or builder will never push for the styles that are in vogue. Their mission should be to find the style that best fits your lifestyle.  

Communication. Just as everyone has their own unique style and dream for their home, we all have different communication styles and ways of interpreting our needs. Before starting drawing process, you and your designer or builder should work together to generate concepts and plans of how you want your space to look. Making sure you’re constantly on the same page should be a priority during the design phase.  

Strategy. Design isn’t just putting pen to paper, it’s a practice that requires physical interaction with your space. Walk the lot with your builder and discuss how you want elements like sunlight, views, and neighboring homes to come into play with your home design. Strategize room planning and house placement based on the spaces you need to be illuminated by the sun. Contemplate the different angles in your home, and how to best maximize their use. It’s also important to think about the privacy levels your home requires, and what design strategies can be utilized to make sure you have the privacy you need.  

Every home builder and designer interprets creativity and inspiration differently. By considering these tips, and working closely with your designer and builder, you can ensure that your custom home is perfectly designed to meet your needs.  


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